Mirrors' lyricist James takes us on a tour via DFA, the perils of touring, the Au Revoir Simone collaboration and venison dinners.
German expressionist cinema of the 1920s was created during the silent movie period. Instead of dialogue, it relied heavily on the music and theatrical attire, and the mise en scène was fixed around the contrast between shadow and light. This was a technique which revolutionised not only the film industry, but also the music industry.
Since the 1980s bands have reflected this iconic movement in their lyrics and appearance and today Brighton quartet Mirrors continue to reflect its resonance. Their focus is not merely about the music, but also their live show. To this pop-noir fourpiece, the aesthetic of Mirrors is equally as important as the music they create. On stage they are four monochrome suits, standing behind four metal desks. Some see it as pretentious, others appreciate the symbolic references. There are no acoustic instruments just three synthesizers: James (also the lyricist), Ally and Tate, with fourth member Josef on electronic drums. Following in the footsteps of early 1980s synth-pop, the keyboards are key antagonists in the creation of Mirrors’ ambience and texture, while the dark yet insouciant crooning provide the backbone to songs that reminisce Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode and Germany’s own Kraftwerk. Lyricist James takes us on a tour via DFA, the perils of touring, the Au Revoir Simone collaboration and venison dinners.
Catch Mirrors at Little London Fields Festival on Sat 7 August!
The Great Escape was your second live show. How was that?
We play on four metal desks and there’s no acoustic instruments of any kind. At that festival we played in complete darkness with visuals in the background but I think it polarised the audience a bit. I think half of the audience thought we were amazing and the other half just though we were being pretentious. So we’ve kinda made our live show a bit warmer.
How did the collaboration with Au Revoir Simone come about?
We’d heard through the grapevine that they liked what we were doing and we wanted to get into remixing a bit more. We approached various artists about doing it and Au Revoir Simone liked the idea. We did it in a day and it seemed to go well.
You guys are currently working on the album?
It’s nearly finished actually. It’s all recorded and it’s being mixed in DFA studios in NY as we speak. It’s about 90% done.
You were locked away in a secret location in rural Sussex recording your debut album. Does that mean you put a lot of emphasis on the environment that you record in?
Definitely. We decided in the end to self-produce the record. So it became about the space we were in because we were using our own equipment. It wasn’t a studio as such, we kind of built a space in the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t even find a grocery store! We just wanted to focus purely on the music for a couple of months.
How long did you spend in isolation?
Because we are electronic and spend a lot of time concentrating on the smallest of details it took us longer than usual. It took us a couple of months.
What was the staple diet while you were there?
We’re all foodies so we ate pretty well! There was a lot of free range meat going on and we got the local farmers bringing us chicken and venison.
So it wasn’t all microwave dinners?
No! We don’t know how to use a microwave; too modern. (Laughs)
You’re about to jump on an extensive tour. Mirrors are certainly playing a lot of shows in Germany!
We’re doing a tour with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Also I love that Germans knows it’s not just about the music, but the aesthetics that a band brings to the live show. That’s what we are all about.
What’s the worst thing about being on the road?
BOREDOM and the uncomfortable sleeping! Perhaps if we become successful enough we will be able to hire one of those tour buses.
I hear they cost a pretty penny.
I have heard that too. In that case we will buy one then hire it out. A valuable investment!
Interview by: Jasmine Phull